Bristol Sonics came back from a 16-point deficit to record back-to-back wins with victory coming through a dramatic final minute length of the pitch try.The Sonics were slow to start after the long journey to Yorkshire and a mistake from the kick-off gifted Bramley field position. Some desperate goal-line defence resulted in a penalty which gave Bramley a repeat set of six and eventually the first score in the second minute. Hooker Ben Pitts scooting over next to the posts, Steve Suddards converting.
But Bristol responded almost immediately. Nath Rainer and Wes Rodgers provided the go forward down the right hand side of the pitch which created an opportunity to spread the ball wide and test Bramley’s edge defence. Scrum-half Johan Schoeman drew in two defenders and a well-timed pass released centre Marcus Brooker for a simple finish, converted by Stand-off Dom Swann, to level the scores.
In a frenetic opening, Buffaloes were in again soon after following a neat pass from scrum half Suddards, leading to Aaron Blake crossing, Suddards making it 12-6 to the hosts.
The home lead was then extended in the 20th minute with winger Carl Linley racing over for an unconverted try. The rest of the first half saw both teams testing each other’s defence with neither making a decisive break through. Brooker was denied a second try having been judged to have been tackled short of the line, albeit illegally, but the Sonics couldn’t make anything of the field position leaving the half-time score at 16-6.The opening forays of the second half were error strewn, with both sides been guilty of not completing their sets. But Bramley sensed victory when Robin Wilkes danced over in the 52nd minute, Suddards goaling to put daylight between the teams. At 22-6 things looked bleak for the Sonics who had found themselves in similar situations throughout their first season in Conference League 3.
However, this Sonics side were not prepared to roll-over. On 56 minutes Bristol found themselves 30 metres out in the middle of the pitch on the 5th tackle. Bramley’s left-side defence were slow to retreat and the Sonics exploited this lapse in concentration. Swann elected to go for the ‘power-play’ and moved the ball wide to Jake Robertson. The young second-row showed great composure to feed Marcus Brooker who raced down the touch-line to beat the covering defenders and cross for his second try.Robertson was again involved five minutes later where his huge hit in midfield forced a turn-over. From the resulting possession man of the match Harry Marson nipped over from dummy-half for a try converted by Dom Swann to close the gap to six points.The momentum was well and truly with the away side now and the individual battles around the pitch started going their way. The Sonics defence was relentless with Marson and second-row Winjard Wormhoudt leading the way, both finishing on 32 tackles each, and fullback James Gahan rock solid at the back to record a fine debut. As Bramley tired they struggled to contain Sonics’ rampaging props Curtis Asanti, Daniel Brooker and Rainer who laid the platform up the centre of the pitch pushed on by the back-row and centres.Eventually this pressure told and with three minutes to go Jake Robertson waltzed through some tired Bramley defence to cap a strong individual performance with a try. Swann levelled the scores at 22-all with the goal.But the game wasn’t over and still could have gone either way in a dramatic finish. Another Bristol error from kick-off gave the Buffaloes one final attacking set. Bristol clung on thanks to 2 Gahan tackles under the shadow of the posts but Bramely were well placed to seal the win. The ball was moved towards the Bramley left wing but an attempted miss-pass was intercepted by Sonics winger Mike Norman who ran the length of the pitch to score under the posts. His ‘swan-dive’ finish launched wild celebrations amongst the Sonics players and supporters with Swann’s conversion leaving the final score at 22-28.
Sonics Head Coach Karl Fearnley was delighted with the determination and attitude shown by his team: ‘We weren’t at full strength today by any means and actually only used 15 players which underlines how much effort those players put in. We’ve worked hard in recent weeks and the boys deserved that result. We’re all looking forward to the remaining games now starting with Hemel next week.’The Sonics return to Clifton RFC on Saturday 4th August against top of the table Hemel Stags.